I received an e-mail from a Librarian at Conneautville, Pa a small Western Pennsylvania town. The e-mail goes something like this: We have a newspaper article from 1993, from our director at the time that was more familiar with this then I am. We have a portrait of our Libraries founder Mr. James A. Stone. The story of the portrait is not only interesting but his eyes follow you where ever you go in the Library. The newspaper article states a séance was conducted in 1914 at Lily Dale but it could not have been that late because Mr. Stone passed away in 1900 and his wife in 1902[?] and his wife was the one who participated in the séance. So it had to have been before 1900 when Mr. Stone was still alive.
ME: [I had to word my answer to this e-mail discreetly because I did not want to scare off the Librarian who is not a Spiritualist and may not be open to our way of belief.]
I would like to see your portrait of Mr. Stone! The later date may well be the correct date of the portrait because the person who “appears” on the canvas must first be deceased…..This is why they are called Precipitated Spirit Paintings. The Bangs Sisters Elizabeth and May specialized in the séance portraits during those years. The Bangs Sisters were Spiritualists as well as my self and Lily Dale is the center of the Spiritualist Religion. I can explain more over the telephone or at our museum. Arrangements were made and 3 ladies from the Stone Memorial Library arrived at the museum the last week of July. Mr. Stone, the glass covered portrait was well padded and wrapped in cardboard and duct taped securely.
May 8, 1993, Conneautville Linesville News
The article starts out by explaining the Library projects and collection of books etc. The information about the founder Mr. Stone was in the second section.
On the opposite wall is the founder, Stone, whose picture is the source of Fullers [Librarian in 1993] strange tale.
Once upon a time [1914 to be exact], Stone’s widow decided she wanted his picture to hang in the Library, but there was one minor problem—no picture of the man existed. The legend in the Valley Is Mrs. Stone went to Lily Dale, a community of Spiritualists in New York, where a séance was conducted. The story claims Stones spirit made an appearance and a picture was taken of him. But when the picture was processed, it had stars in the background which the widow didn’t consider appropriate. So, a return trip was made and another picture—the one in the Library—was taken.
Here’s where it gets stranger. Fuller said she thought it a rather interesting story and laughed over the years as she told everyone about it—until one year, during homecoming week at Conneaut Valley, she was working at the Library when a small, very old man entered.” I see you have a picture of Mr. Stone,” he said. Fuller laughed as she replied. “Yes,” and told the legend. But the man didn’t laugh. He said it wasn’t a wild story—it was true. He knew because Stone was his friend and the man was present when the picture was taken. He had been the driver who took Mrs. Stone to Lily Dale. With that he left the library and Fuller hasn’t seen him since, although efforts were made to contact him. Fuller said she finds the whole thing very interesting and feels the man in the picture—whose eyes appear to follow her in the Library—is very much her friend.
I examined the “Painting” and proclaimed it to be a Bangs Sisters Precipitated Spirit Painting—the first in a hundred years a Painting has surfaced with actual history, whether verbal or documented. Below is a photograph of Mr. James A. Stone that hangs in Stone Memorial Library.