The Spiritual and Liberal Association of Grand Rapids, Michigan

Albert Baxter, History of the City of Grand Rapids, Michigan. New York: Munsell & Company, 1891, pp. 345-346:

    Soon after the occurrences at Hydesville, near Rochester, N. Y., in 1849, popularly known as the “Rochester rappings,” from which Modern Spiritualism took its rise, a few people in Grand Rapids began to hold meetings for investigating the then novel phenomena.  “Circles,” or “séances,” became frequent, and occasionally a teacher of the new faith came along, and there would be a series of lectures—at first in Concern Hall, then in Luce’s, Mills & Clancy’s, or Collins Hall, or later in Squier’s Opera House.  About 1862 an association of Spiritualists and “liberal thinkers” was formed, under the name of Religio-Philosophical Society.  Of this, in 1865, Wright L. Coffinberry was President, and during several years Harry H. Ives was prominent in the management.  Under various names and organizations, advocates of this faith have since kept up meetings, with some degree of regularity, but not without intermissions from occasional apathy and lack of funds for active work.  Henry W. Boozer, for thirty-five years an earnest student of Spiritualism, from the beginning has taken steady interest in their efforts.  Among visiting lecturers in the earlier steps of the movement are remembered S. B. Brittan, Mrs. M. J. Kutz, Selden E. Finney, Moses Hull, A. B. Whiting, Belle Scougall and Mrs. T. W. Parry; and among local “mediums,” or clairvoyants, Mrs. Sarah Graves, Mrs. Mary K. Boozer, Mrs. M. J. Squiers, and others.  The “First Society of Spiritualists of Grand Rapids” was organized March 30, 1868, with Ira Jones presiding, Ira G. Tompkins, Secretary, and John Ball, H. H. Ives, John Butler, E. W. Barns, Mrs. E. Morey and others, as Directors.  A second society was afterward formed, and then, June 29, 1879, the two were united under the name of “The Spiritual and Liberal Association of Grand Rapids”—of this Mrs. Sarah Graves was one of the Trustees.  They held meetings at Good Templars’ Hall, on Pearl street, in 1881-83; Dr. W. O. Knowles, President.  The Science Hall Lecture Association was organized in October, 1884, for “promoting and diffusing a knowledge of the philosophy and phenomena of Spiritualism.”  Its lectures were held in Science Hall, at 59-61 Canal street, under the management of Joseph H. Tompkins, H. H. Ives, W. K. Wheeler, and a few others; speakers generally being secured from abroad.  Another association called “The Conversational,” since better known as the “Conference Meeting,” was formed at No. 60 Monroe street, February 25, 1886, where its stated meetings are still held, by Mrs. Julia A. Stowe, in Independence Hall.  A second Religio-Philosophical Society was organized May 4, 1888.  J. B. Josselyn, President; meeting first at 74 Waterloo street and later at Good Templars’ Hall on South Division street.  “The Spiritual Union of Grand Rapids” is the latest society in this field, organized April 26, 1889, for “scientific, spiritual and intellectual culture,” and numbering forty or more active members.  Its meetings are held in Kennedy’s Block, corner of Waterloo and Louis streets.  Prominent among active workers in this faith are L. V. Moulton, C. C. Howell, Charles A. Andrus, W. E. Reid, L. H. Austin, Mrs. C. Winch, Mrs. John Lindsey, with many others, besides those hereinbefore mentioned.  The Spiritualists estimate some 400 adherents and in all 3,000 believers of their faith among the city residents.  The Michigan State Association of Spiritualists was organized in Grand Rapids, by articles field June 6, 1884; Samuel Marvin and Sarah Graves, of this city, being among its officers.  Its annual meetings are held here.


[ Ephemera Home] [ Spiritualist Listings ]