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Periodical: Fountain of Light

Summary:  From Pat Deveney's database:

Fountain of Light, The.
A Weekly Journal, Devoted to Light Seekers.
1880--1881 Weekly
Quincy, Illinois. Editor: Mrs. Minerva Merrick; Ida M. Merrill, editress.
1/1, October 6, 1880-October 5, 1881. 16 pp., $1.10 a year.

The Banner of Light in announcing the journal in 1881 incorrectly called her "Mrs. Dr. Herrick." The journal proposed to publish on science, art, literature, ethics, etc., so that "by elevating the spirit of man, we develop the true life." It devoted considerable space to spiritualism proper but insisted that its purposes were to develop man's spirituality rather than spiritualism as a movement. Merrick later contributed to The Watchman (Chicago), and wrote Light of the Ages Recently Written by Ancient Immortals and the Deathblow to Poverty, now reprinted by Kessinger. Mrs. Merrick's later marriage is noted in the Grand Haven Tribune (Michigan) for April 17, 1883:

"Orchardson Takes a Wife.

Quincy, Ill., April 12.—Prof. Charles Orchardson, who was associated with Vera Ava until her arrest at Elgin and subsequent incarceration at Joliet, was married tonight to Mrs. Minerva Merrick, a wealthy widow and spiritualist leader, 32 years of age. She has $30,000 worth of property and no children. She is the builder and owner of Merrick Chapel, a handsome brick structure given over to the spiritualists for worship. Orchardson is an artist, medium and adventurer, and was at one time a candidate for Mayor of Chicago on a fusion ticket. He is 57 years of age. —Detroit Free Press.

Grand Haven people know Prof. Orchardson well. For years he lived at Spring Lake with his wife and family and had an elegant home there. He employed himself mostly in painting portraits. He is a handsome man and has gained national reputation through his eccentric notions and beliefs. His connection with the great fraud Vera Ava have gained for him still more notoriety.

A year ago last fall, he, accompanied by the famous Vera Ava, visited his wife at Spring Lake. At that time he was contemplating a lecturing tour with the ‘great mystery' as Ava has been called. Mrs. Orchardson got a divorce from her husband last summer." (Online at

"Vera Ava," of course, is Mme Diss Debar, a truly extraordinary spiritualist swindler: as a spirit-painting medium she was convicted of swindling Daniel Webster's old law partner out of a house on Madison Avenue in New York; as a Theosophist she claimed to be H.P. Blavatsky reincarnate; and as a mysterious occultist (named "Madame Helena Horos" of the "College of Occult Science") she hoodwinked S.L. Macgregor Mathers in Paris. Her story is now told thoughtfully and in detail by John Buescher in Empress of Swindle: The Life of Ann Odelia Diss Debar (2014). University of Minnesota; NSAC, Lily Dale.

Issues:Fountain of Light V1 1880-81

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