Proposal for a Spirit Trust

Fort Wayne News and Atchison Globe

A Spirit Combine

    Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Lease of Kansas, once prominent, but now almost forgotten, has become a spiritualist, and is said to be engaged in a move to collect all the mediums into a trust and advance prices for foolishness.—Atchison Globe.

    Mrs. Mary Ellen Lease, who has embraced Spiritualism, will undertake to direct the leadership of Spiritualists in New York and Pennsylvania.  She will abandon the political field.  Mrs. Lease advised a conference meeting of Spiritualists in session at Alexandria [sic], Ind., of her plans, and her active identification with Spiritualism will begin at once.

    Mary Ellen Lease, the all-around agitator, has discarded the garb of Populism and donned the robes of spiritualism.  She is now probably infatuated with the idea that she can return to this earth after death, in spirit form, and continue operations as heretofore.

    Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Lease is credited with suggesting the trust in spiritualism which is to be formed in Chicago this week.  The idea is not alone to fix the price of an invoked spirit and to prevent rate cutting, but also to regulate the output of the business and to discourage irresponsible mediums who are engaged in it.  Whether a guarantee is to go with every ghost raised by members of the trust is still to be determined.—Ft. Wayne Sentinel, October 10, 1899.

    Now that Mrs. Lease is firmly established in spiritualism, perhaps she will be able to materialize the spook of 16 to 1.—Hagerstown Herald.

[The coinage of silver and gold was legally set at the ratio of 16 to 1; the Populist Party Platform of 1892 demanded “free and unlimited coinage” at that rate.—JB]

Ft. Wayne News, August 21, 1899:

Mary Elizabeth Lease Joins in Novel Move by Spiritualists.
Grand Combine of Mediums.

Séance Fees Will Be Raised and Frauds Barred Out—Manifestations by Spirits Must Be Confined to the Old and Accepted Forms—Good Mediums Welcome the Trust.

    Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Lease is to be the central figure in a new trust which will be completed in Chicago this fall.  It is a trust to control ghosts.  Communication with the spirit land is to be tied up in monopolistic style, and “independent” mediums are to be crowded out.  Trust prices for connection with the hereafter will rule, and those who do not maintain trust prices will be placed under the ban.  Spiritualist mediums of the Mississippi valley have been holding a convention in Richmond, Ind., during the last few days.  They propose to organize each state convention into a trust, with the purpose of forming a grand combine, at the national spiritualist convention, which meets in Chicago, Oct. 9.

    Mary Elizabeth Lease of Kansas fame, according to the Chicago Inter Ocean, has been converted to spiritualism, and this ghost trust scheme is believed to have originated in her fertile brain.  There is no doubt that probably this fall, or next year at the latest, she will be elevated to the leadership of the national body.  Her efforts will be along the line of purging the mediumship.  Mrs. Lease has become so enthusiastic that she expects to give the work all of her time, even to the exclusion of her political hobbies.  She will make her first debut as a spiritualist lecturer at the Indiana state camp meeting, and will later be heard at Lily Dale camp, New York, and Onset bay camp, Massachusetts.  These are the three great meetings, though in all there will be 56 state and district camp meetings this year.  She will also appear before the national convention, which will convene in Chicago.

    There is no doubt that the new organization will control all camps this season.  The membership includes the best mediums and the most reputable spiritualists in the work.  They propose to shut the gates against all others, and spiritualists of the better classes are favorable to this at least, though they may not favor the trust prices.  They organize under the caption of fighting frauds in spiritualism, and it will be one of their first moves.

    During the last two or three years—since the medium business has become so extensive—there has been a frightful slashing of séance prices, until now any one can get a glimpse of a materialized form of what is reputed to be “passed over” ancestors or friends, for the nominal sum of 25 cents.  Conversation, through trumpets, with departed ones is placed on the same basis and written messages go for the same.  There is to be a revival of the “good old days,” when the mediums lived on the fat of the land and got $1 for even the slightest of manifestations.  The scale which may be expected to prevail this year at the state camps will be:  For materializations, $2; for trumpet séances, $1; for slate writings, $1; for other manifestations, $1.

    The “trust” proposes also that the line of “latest novelties” shall be curtailed and no great effort shall be made to spring something new.  Fraudulent mediums have been invading the camps during the last three or four years and have virtually taken the business away from the old ones, because they always had something new in spirit manifestations.  People are always looking for something new in every line, and ghosts are no exception, they say.  Mediums who claim to be genuine, have found it impossible to keep up with their smoother rivals in the novelty business, and they have been supplanted.  They now expect to bar out the tricksters.  These tricksters, they say, have been imposing on the people, and urged on by necessity, many good, reliable, genuine mediums have been led to perpetrate fraud.

    These good mediums, therefore, welcome the combine which has been formed and are more than ready to turn the camps over to the trust.  They are willing to pay good prices for genuine manifestations, but are decidedly opposed to paying anything for being imposed upon.  There is no doubt that the trust will have a good effect upon spiritualism, which has suffered beyond all possible conception because of the frauds which have been carried out in its name.

    It is advocated by some that national and state associations should ordain good mediums the same as churches do preachers.  These mediums, it is suggested, should be sent to the different associations and temples and under their direction and auspices give free séances.  They should also, it is claimed, receive all of their remuneration direct from the state and national associations, and those funds should be freely given by those who keep up the present system by attending the séances where they pay at the door.

    Mrs. Lease is expected to formulate some plan for harmonizing all interests should she be elected president of the national society.  The Chicago convention will adopt a fixed creed or declaration of principles.


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