Social and Religious Vagaries of Western New York

the New-York Herald, June 16, 1869:

We published yesterday, from our special correspondent, a full account of the twenty-first anniversary of the “Friends of Human Progress,” at Waterloo, Seneca county, New York.  The platform of these people is expressed in the title they give themselves—the friends of human progress—and no one can complain that it is not comprehensive or broad enough.  In fact, it is too broad to be specific and comprehensive enough to embrace all the isms of the day.

The “Friends of Human Progress” do not appear to have any particular organization for social, communist, or co-operative purposes as regards labor or property, but seem to be idealists only, composed of men and women of various opinions and isms, who meet together periodically to ventilate their theories.

Social and Religious Vagaries of Western New York

On this occasion there were about one hundred and fifty, white, black and gray, and of both sexes.  Some of the names are familiar as connected with abolitionism in times past, with the women’s rights movements, with Spiritualism, and with other vagaries, and conspicuously among them was that of Fred Douglass.  There was a great deal of flowery talk about progress, humanity, a new age, and a new philosophy and religion, but no ideas or definite object. Continue Reading “Social and Religious Vagaries of Western New York”

Lily Dale Historical Museum

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The Lily Dale Historical Museum is a treasure of Spiritualist memorabilia, vintage newspapers and photographs, Precipitated Spirit Paintings, Spirit Slates and Séance Trumpets.

This is a one of a kind collection; researchers and writers from around the country frequent the archives to view the Fox Family Bible, the Peddlers Trunk and the entry sign that hung above the original fox cottage before it burned in 1955, a scale model of the Fox Cottage, various photo’s of the cottage along with Flo Cottrel the “Rapping Medium” who tended the Fox Cottage when it was in Lily Dale.

Spirit Painting’s by the Campbell Brothers and Bangs Sisters, Inspired Paintings, artwork and spirit drawings from the 1930’s. Spirit Slates by the Campbell Brothers, PLOA Keeler, Fred Evans and various other mediums, Woman Suffrage memorabilia including Susan B. Anthony, [who appeared at Lily Dale 5 times]. An 1893? Photo of The National Organization of Suffrage official’s, ribbons, pins, pamphlets and record books of the suffrage movement. The Asa Root Civil War diary: Asa Root and his brother Albert were in the Civil War, from Bolivar NY. Asa kept a diary thru the 3 years he was in the war, died at Andersonville Prison Camp and his brother Albert brought the last diary book home for Elosia too transcribe. [the previous 2 years were mailed by Asa from where ever he was at War] Their sister Elosia came to live in Lily Dale with her twin daughters, Alice and Agnes and lived here on North Street.

Camp programs from 1880 to the present year, Spiritualist newspapers: Banner of Light 1887-91, Cassadagan,  Psychic Observer 1937-60’s & Dale News, Andrew Jackson Davis books, magazines with Lily Dale news articles, various notebooks of Spiritualist information and phenomena for research purposes, a pictorial view of photo’s beginning with Kiantone, Leona and the DAV&P Railroad. Photos of Spiritualist mediums and Healers that have passed on and much, more memorabilia!  Open daily 11-4  from the last weekend in June through the end of August… other months by appointment.

Lily Dale, A Town Where the Spirit World Rules

July 8, 2005

A Town Where the Spirit World Rules


AS the rays of afternoon light filtered into her comfortable reading room, Sherry Lee Calkins swept a piece of brownish chalk over a large piece of drawing paper, a dreamy look in her eye. “There’s a short man in the room, wearing a cap with a tassel on it,” she said. “He’s a Scotsman. A grandparent or great-grandparent.”

She turned her attention toward what appeared to be an empty spot on her powder-blue carpet. “What?” she asked. “Use the orange? O.K.” She put down the piece of brown chalk, picked up an orange one and began drawing again. Amorphous shapes formed on the paper as she switched to the aqua and then the green, occasionally looking off to one side to share a laugh with the invisible Scotsman.

He was the one, she told me, who was doing the drawing – he had taken over her hands.

This time I was the client, but allowing spirits to direct her artwork is something Ms. Calkins said she had done about 10,000 times in the past 18 years. And studying these drawings for clues into her clients’ pasts – and futures – has become her occupation. She’s a spiritual medium, practicing in America’s epicenter of spiritual mediumship: Lily Dale, N.Y. Spirits guide just about everything in Lily Dale, a village of colorful Victorian gingerbread houses on small, placid Cassadaga Lake, near the Village of Cassadaga in a rural corner of New York State closer to Cleveland than to New York City. Since it was founded 126 years ago, Lily Dale has been populated and run by Spiritualists, members of a religious group that combines a reverence for “the God of your own understanding” with the belief that the living can communicate with the dead.
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Spiritist Magazine Features Precipitated Paintings

Precipitated Spirit Painting Article by Ron Nagy
Precipitated Spirit Painting Article by Ron Nagy

Precipitated Spirit Paintings are works of art produced through the mediumship of the Bangs sisters or Campbell brothers in the years from 1894 to about 1911 during séances in the light. No human hand was used—the entire process was by spirit communication. An iridologist examined the eyes of several of these, one of which was a portrait of President Abraham Lincoln.

The method of reception was much the same as the Bangs sisters’, except that the canvas was placed on a table, the paints placed in a receptacle beneath the table, then the table was covered with black cloth to eliminate the light, leaving the frame and canvas alone exposed.

The Campbell brothers sat with the sitters around the table with hands on the table to produce a concentrated battery. The picture was then precipitated in full view of the sitters.

The picture of Lincoln has been often copied and is considered a remarkable likeness of the great emancipator whose Spiritual development is a marked feature in this picture.

Facial Diagnosis:

Lines on forehead might indicate a circulatory system problem. This man has many vertical lines at the bridge of his nose. This is considered a liver sign, could indicate an angry person. The liver holds the emotion of anger. The horizontal lines at the bridge of the nose indicate an insufficiency with the pancreas, sugar metabolism. Dark coloring in the corner of the eye indicates spleen insufficiency (possibly anemic).
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