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The Spirits of Lily Dale

a new book, by Ron Nagy with Joyce LaJudice.

Available now. Direct from the Author. All autograph requests honored.

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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 Lily Dale projects the feeling of walking back in time, as the streets are narrow originally made for the horse and buggy.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

Davenport Brothers

Davenport 2

 

 

[circa 1870 photograph shows the brothers and William Fay in front of the "spirit cabinet"]

Ira Erastus Davenport  September 17, 1839 -July 8, 1911

William Henry Davenport  February 1, 1841-July 1, 1877

The Davenport Brothers, were American Magicians in the late 19th Century, sons of a Buffalo New York Policeman. The brothers presented illusions claimed to be supernatural.

The Davenports began in 1854, less than a decade after Spiritualism had taken off in America. After stories of the Fox Sisters, the Davenports started reporting similar occurrences. Their father took up managing his sons and the group was joined by William Fay, a Buffalo resident with an interest in conjuring. Their shows were introduced by a former “Restoration Movement Minister, Dr.J B. Ferguson, a follower of Spiritualism, who assured the audience that the brothers worked by spirit power rather than deceptive trickery. Ferguson was apparently sincere that the Davenports possessed spiritual powers.

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posted by Ron Nagy in History Topics and have No Comments