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The Spirits of Lily Dale

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posted by tlink211 in History Topics and have No Comments

Thomas J. Skidmore Lily Dale Pioneer

Thomas SkidmoreIt will not come as a surprise to our readers to learn that Thomas J. Skidmore, so long and so favorably known, has passed into the world of immortals. Sunday evening April 17 1904 at about 7:30, he was smitten with paralysis, and from that time until the end, May 25th, he gradually declined. Mr. Skidmore was born at Lewisville, now Morris, N.Y. on October 6, 1826. His parents moved to Charlotte, when he was seven years of age, afterwards moving to Laona and Fredonia, all within a few miles of this place.

His early education was such as fell to the lot of the boys of that time, and he afterwards traveled over quite an area of the country in his search for profitable employment. The days of reconstruction gave him an opportunity for exercise of his business facilities and he became interested in railroad building, but finally devoted himself to one branch of bridge construction.

It was then quite a feat to build a bridge, as the builder was the designer and constructer, and the engineering problem to be solved was sometimes almost insurmountable. It was by his advice that the casings were used in building the bridge at Omaha and Council Bluffs, where it had been impossible to secure a foundation on account of the shifting sands of the Missouri River. They proved a success and have been used extensively in similar cases.
He was engaged in bridge construction for the government during the war, and built the “long bridge” across the Potomac at Washington. He was one of the incorporators of the Watson Bridge Company of Paterson, N.J., also one of the founders of the Fredonia National Bank, one of the strongest financial institutions of Western New York, and was a director up to the time of his death.

He was married to Miss Marion Johnson in 1854. During the early days of this organization, he was quite active and was its financial backer during the years of its struggle for existence and he and Mrs. Skidmore were always among the first to respond to any call in its behalf.
Mrs. Skidmore passed to spirit life from Cincinnati, Ohio, while on her way home from Lake Helen, Florida, February 3, 1895, since which time his brother Henry and sister Mrs. M.F. Tolles and for the past few years, Mrs. Sarah Skidmore, widow of his brother Oscar, have shared his home here. Mrs. Elizabeth Page, who was engaged as housekeeper by Mrs. Skidmore, several years before her transition, has remained in the same position all these years.
They left no children; those born, with the exception, a daughter who lived to the age of twenty, died in infancy…his knowledge sustained him and only a few days before the end came he said, in a delirium, “Marion, you and Kitty have been alone a long time, but I will join you soon.” Was it delirium? Was it not a beautiful vision of the gates ajar? Did not the door to another world swing open that he might see the angel visitants, and catch a glimpse of his loved ones who were waiting?

posted by Ron Nagy in History Topics and have No Comments

Lily Dale Now and Then

     Lily Dale is the oldest community dedicated to the practice of the Spiritualist Religion. The basic tenant of Spiritualism is the continuity of life after death. The living can communicate with the dead and the dead communicate with the living.

      A small, gated bucolic village of Victorian homes in the Western end of New York State the “Dale” is nestled on the West side by Upper Cassadaga Lake and to the East and South by 100 acres of woodlands. Lily Dale projects the feeling of walking back in time, as the streets are narrow originally made for the horse and buggy.

      Founded in 1879 by Spiritualists, Free Thinkers and Liberals a village was planned for the purpose of holding summer camp meetings for the study, practice and exchange of philosophical ideas. The Woman’s Suffrage movement soon had a strong platform at Lily Dale. Susan B. Anthony, Reverend Anna Shaw and Isabella Beecher Hooker were regular speakers. Within a short period of time a city of tents became an organized village of streets with Victorian houses and 40 families living on the property year round.

     Lily Dale did not have any one founder and Lily Dale did not just happen overnight. Read more…

posted by Ron Nagy in History Topics and have No Comments

Old Houses Have Secrets

Old houses have secrets, in closets, in the attic, under floorboards, especially the second step to the upper floors. Always feel for a loose brick in the chimney my grandfather told me. He contracted to tear old houses down, a “junk man”—so I thought. Actually, he was an explorer of antiquities. He first searched for the forgotten hidden treasures of the past inhabitants of those houses. Treasures those inhabitants held close to their hearts and trusted to reveal to no one until it was too late to remember. I always thought he was just saving the copper pipes, window glass, mantle trim, brick and stone to resell to contractors for the upscale mansions that were being built along the main line of Philadelphia. I was the “gopher”, go for this and go for that. I was always going for something I couldn’t find and when I returned my grandfather would have this ironical grin on his face. I learned some valuable lessons from my grandfather.

The old house I live in now is no different, there are hiding places, magical areas for a grown up kid as myself to venture into. My house was built in 1882. By 1901 the house’s main parlor was being advertised for rent as having a séance room, seventeen feet square, with bay window, closet and upright piano. How many séance’s were held here over the years and who were the people who attended on a regular basis? What knowledge was obtained and was all the information revealed or was it suppressed, then written down and hidden away? Could I find something that no one else discovered? Had anyone ever tried?

posted by Ron Nagy in Paranormal Observations and have No Comments

Forest Temple

101 Forest Temple  B.  postmarked 1936 - CopyA meeting was held at #4 North Street at the home of Mrs. Mary C. Lyman in the early part of the Camp Season of 1892. The purpose of the meeting was to organize a discussion group. As weather permitted meetings were held in the grove in the North East woods of Lily Dale. Athelston Gaston a Congressman from Meadville, Pa. made the suggestion to name the meetings Forest Temple and it was adopted.

The purpose of the meetings was discussion of Spiritualist subjects and conditions of the Country concerning Free Thinker Ideals. Sitting benches with backs were arranged in rows and usually the senior most respected person acted as moderator. Meetings were held at 9:30am and 4:30pm. Many lively discussions occurred. In 1897 a nightly “Thought Exchange” meeting was held at 6:30pm and continued for many years.

Benjamin Bartlet, a wealthy Spiritualist from Cambridge Springs Pa. had a building constructed in 1914 at his expense and it was dedicated to his mother. This dedication plaque can still be seen on the inside wall of the Forest Temple Building. The Cummings Farm property was located along the East side of Lily Dale property. The Pig Barns can be seen in many of the older photographs of the Forest Temple Meetings.

Lily Dale purchased the Cummings property in 1923 and the Pig Barns were removed for obvious reasons. Imagine the aroma during the heat of the Summer Camp Meetings. At this time I am not sure when the outside Message Services began or when messages started at the meetings so I will not guess.

The Forest Temple Park area is another one of Lily Dale’s oldest and most revered gathering places to this day.

posted by Ron Nagy in History Topics and have No Comments